For the present, we are keeping on the northern districts or Newcastle area with this story.
In the late 1880s senior clubs from Newcastle and the Hunter competed with Sydne y teams for a premiership. In 1887 Northumberland won the title.
Northumberland was the name adopted by the team from West Maitland, here is a brief description from a 1887 newspaper of the day on their development and participation.
Firstly though we might say that the club continued quite successfully for a number of years but were last heard of in 1894. This was a period of deep depression for Australia but certainly did not hit other football codes and we can only suppose this might be one reason for their disappearance, or probably more succinctly there was no-one to take their place.
“In this issue we give the portraits of the crack northern team of New South Wales for the past season; The Northumberland Club was formed in 1883 by Mr. E. J. Young, who saw the club through its first difficulties, acting as honorary secretary for two seasons. This club was the first to adopt the Australian Rules in the northern district of New South Wales; and considerable difficulty was experienced in raising a team of twenty players, as the feeling against the Victorian, game (as it was then called) was rather bitter. During the first season of the club a series of scratch matches was indulged in; and it was thought at first that the club would have to disband, as there were no fields to conquer. However, early in the next season a match was arranged with the West Maitland Rugby team, which defeated the N.F.C. at its own game. Subsequently little difficulty was experienced in getting players together. The renowned Sydney Club visited Maitland, and gave quite an impetus to the game.
Many gentlemen who had at first held back came forward, and by their exertions as players and in other ways greatly helped to place the club in the proud position it now occupies in the north. About this time also a club was started in Newcastle; and, having some able exponents of the game who hailed from Victoria, such as Le Neveu, Murrell, Woodlands, and others, it also managed to defeat the pioneer club. Those reverses naturally gave additional interest to the game, more especially as the rivalry between Newcastle and Maitland in any kind of athletic exorcise is always very keen. Wallsend about this time made its debut; the matches between these three clubs being always close and exciting.
During 1885 and 1880 the Northumberlands, although they never went lower on the list than second for the northern premiership, could not manage to get to the top of the tree. First Newcastle and then Wallsend held the coveted position. During the season just over the Northumberland Club gained that place, and made a bid for the premiership of the colony, having won and lost a match with the renowned metropolitan premiers.
The following summary of the club’s doings for the Season compares favourably with the record of any club in the colony:
Among the office bearers who have stuck to the club since it was started may be mentioned the Rev. Canon Tyrrell, president; messrs; John Bourke and John Gillies, vice presidents ; and the popular and genial Mr. Harry Williams, who has been captain all through the club’s existence. Among the players of the 20 may be found some of the swiftest men in the north on the running track. Many of them are only just commencing to master the difficulties of a game where experience and skill are required to make a team excel. Most of the players are young, and will no doubt greatly improve as the seasons roll on. Consequently we may hear of the N.F.C. making a successful bid of the premiership of the colony in the time to come.”
Then A 1894 Report Shows:
“The Northumberland Club will open their campaign on Saturday, 5th May, at Wallsend, against the local twenty. The Norths this season are not as strong as of yore, but have a fair team, and possibly before the season closes they will beat more than will down them.
The Australian game of football is slowly but surely gaining a strong hold m the Northern district, more especially in the mining districts of Newcastle. There is an additional senior team in the field this year, to wit, the old Hamilton Club, who have returned to the fold, and no less than fourteen junior teams have entered for the junior badges.”
“The game in Sydney also appears to be again likely to thrive, some seven teams having decided to play this season, one of which is composed entirely of Victorian players employed at the firm of Pope and Matter’s foundry. The Norths have their hands pretty full to the date of the commencement of the premiership matches, as the following matches have been arranged :— May 5, Wallsend, at Wallsend ; May 12, Wallsend at Maitland; May 19, Hamilton, at Hamilton; May 24, Burwood, at Maitland ; May 26, Wallsend, at Newcastle; June 2, Merryland Fitz Roy [no idea where this is – ed.], at Maitland ; June 9, Hamilton, at Maitland ; June 16, Charlestown, at Maitland. All these matches should prove interesting and our town representatives should practice during the week and try and keep up their good position at the top of the list for season 1894.”
The following is an excerpt from the 12 April 1890 Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate.
Its a bit of a long read, but interesting read and it is fascinating to note the perceived strength of the game in and around Newcastle and the detail to which the newspaper goes to record the Association’s annual meeting. You have to ask yourself, “what happened to the next 110 years?”
“NORTHERN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
The second annual meeting of the above Association was held last night at the Centennial Hotel, there being present representatives from all the Northern clubs. Mr. William Jenkins, vice-president of the Association, occupied the chair, and having – declared the meeting open, Mr. H. Williiams, the secretary read, the report for the past year, which was as follows:”
Northern District Football Association
(Australian Rules). SECOND ANNUAL REPORT
“In presenting their second annual report, your committee have every reason to congratulate all footballers on the success which has attended the efforts of the Association in promoting the Australian game of football in the Northern district. The game being first started in the north by the formation of the Northumberland Club at Maitland five years ago, has rapidly spread all over the district, no less than seven new clubs having joined the Association last season there being now 14 subscribing clubs on the roll.
“The balance-sheet shows a small deficit, but your committee think, considering the very heavy undertakings of last season, that they may well congratulate themselves on the financial state of the Association.
“Early last season arrangements were made with the Fitzroy team, of Melbourne, to visit the Northern district to play a series of matches. The first match, played at Wallsend on the 24th May, was won by the Victorians by 10 goals 15 behinds to 5 goals 5 behinds (although behinds were shown in the score they were not counted).This game was witnessed by 8000 people.
The Wallsend representatives played up splendidly towards the finish, and considerable excitement and enthusiasm prevailed. The second match, played at Maitland, also resulted in a win for the Fitzroys. The Maitland men had the lead up to three-quarter time, the score then being Maitland three goals, Fitzroy two. On the following Tuesday a match was played against a team of Maitland juniors, and on the Thursday against the Newcastle District clubs; both matches resulting in the defeat of your representatives: The final match of. the tour against the combined Northern District – although resulting in a win for the Victorians, showed that the full strength of the .North is well able to cope with the strongest terms that can be sent here. Some splendid form was exhibited by players on both sides; the excitement amongst the spectators being exhibited by loud bursts of applause. The result of the match was six goals six behinds Fitzroy four goals eight behinds to the Northern District team. (It is interesting to note that two of the Fitzroy players were “deaf and dumb” and the tour of the region cost in the vicinity of £300 ($39,000 in today’s money – ed).
“The annual interprovincial match, played at Newcastle on the 14th July, was won by your representatives. “The match played against the Englishmen at Maitland, on the 14th August, resulted in an easy win for the North by nine goals to three. Footballers may well feel proud of this victory, as we were not represented by the best team in the North on this occasion, several prominent exponents of the game being unable to take part in the match ,through business engagements. In passing, it may be noted that this defeat of the English team by your representatives was equal to the defeat administered to the visitors by the crack Victorian teams; and this, after the experience they had undoubtedly gained at the Australian game during their Victorian and South Australian tour, speaks well for the improvement made by your representatives towards the close of the .season.
“It may also be noted with satisfaction that this defeat of the English team by your representatives was the only victory scored against them in N.S. Wales. “The sad accident which caused the death of Mr. R. L. Seddon, of the English team, was deeply regretted by every one. The kindly expressions of sympathy from fol lowers of all games of football in Australia, ten’ed to show the great popularity of the English captain in whatever part of the colonies he had visited. “The Wallsend Club were the successful competitors for the Black Diamond Cup, kindly presented by the Richmond Tobacco Company, of Newcastle, having gone through the season without sustaining defeat. This cup will be competed for again during the coming season, having to be won twice before becoming the absolute property of any club.
“For the Junior Cup, Our Boys, of West Maitland, were returned the winners, alter a series of most interesting matches. “Your committee would strongly urge upon their successors the advisability of continuing these Junior Cup contests.
“Mr. W. Jenkins, the late secretary of the Wallsend Club, having left the district, your committee cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing the deep regret they feel at his departure. Mr. Jenkins was an enthusiastic supporter of the Australian game, and during his short stay in the district did much to promote the welfare of the Association.
“The Northern Association was represented at the conference held in Melbourne in November last to consider and revise the rules by Mr. W. Marshall, of Sydney.
“During the coming season several important fixtures have already ‘been arranged. The Port Melbourne team (one of the best in Melbourne) will , visit the north on the 29th June and 2nd July. A team will also be sent to Victoria to play a series of four or five matches during July. The first match on the 13th July will be of an intercolonial nature, that day having been set apart for a representative match be tween the players of the two colonies. Satisfactory arrangements have been completed with the Victorian Association, and the Melbourne Cricket Club have most generously decided to hand over the whole of the proceeds from this match to the N.D.F.B.A., to wards defraying the expenses of the trip. Matches have also been arranged with the Fitzroy, St. Kilda, Port Melbourne, and probably Ballarat will be visited during the tour.
“In view of these important fixtures, your committee would impress upon all players the necessity of at once getting into practice, and improve themselves at the game, so that they may be able to cope successfully with the formidable opponents they will be called upon to meet during the coming season, and help to place New South Wales football in the same position that this colony occupies in other branches of sport. To achieve this, a certain amount of training will be necessary by those players who desire to be selected in the representative matches; and after arranging such important fixtures, it is to be hoped one and all will do their utmost, not alone to hold their own, but to score a majority of wins in the matches arranged against players of the other colonies.
“The election of office-bearers for the ensuing season will be held to-night, The following gentlemen held office last season, viz. :– Patron, Mr, J. C. Ellis; presidents, Rev. Canon Tyrrell, Mr. H. Rushton; vice presidents – Messrs. S. Keightley, J. Fletcher junr, John Gillies, W. Jenkins, F. W. Reay, R. F. Watson; hon. treasurer, Mr. John Murrell; hon. secretary, Mr. Harry Williams.” Mr. Murrell, the treasurer, read the balance-sheet, which was as follows :
North Districts Football Association – Financial Statement for 1888
Balance from 1887
Gates from Fitzroy FC matches
Fitzroy FC tour expenses
Gate – interprovincial match
Interprovincial match expenses
Share interprovincial match with NSWFA
Gate – Northern Dist FA v Englishmen
Expenses Englishmen’s match
Delegates fees (club affiliation)
Canon Tyrrell donation towards junior cup
Purchase Junior Cup
Donations towards Englishmens’match
Newcastle City Club
Treasurer’s expenses (telegrams etc.)
Secretary’s expenses (same)
Interest paid to bank
Against above debt balance there are promises:of donations towards loss on English team spec. Northumberland Club £3. 4s; Summerhill Club £1 12s; Our Boys Club £1; Hamilton Club £1.6s Total, £6.16. J. MURRELL hon: treas. March 13th, 1889. Audited and found correct, ALBERT ALLEN, JAMES CLAYTON.”
Mr. KEIGHTLEY, in moving the adoption of the above said that the number of clubs subscribing to the club is about thirteen, and that it redounds to the credit of those taking interest in the Association game. The speaker eulogised the great help which Mr. Jenkins had given to the different clubs playing under their rules, He (Mr. Jenkins) was a very enthusiastic member, and had done all in his power to make the game go ahead. Mr. Keightley also passed a few words of praise on Mr. Murrell, of the Newcastle City Club, for the vast interest he had taken in forwarding the interests of the Association. He thought that if all the clubs took the same interest in the game as Mr. Murrell, we would soon be able to beat all comers from other parts.
The Wallsend Club deserved great credit for the way in which they had played during the past season, and they well deserved the cup which they had so nobly won. However, he hoped that during the coming season our Newcastle Club would improve enough to wrest from them the cup which they so deservedly won. After passing a few more remarks, the speaker proposed “That the report and balance-sheet be adopted.” – This was carried unanimously. The election of officers then took place, and resulted as follows: – Patron, Mr. S. Keightley; presidents, Rev. Canon Tyrrell and Mr. H. Rushton; vice-presidents : Messrs. J. Fletcher, junr., R. F. Watson, J. Williams, J. Gillies, H. Berkeley, J. Murrell”
The SECRETARY read a letter from the Port Melbourne Football Club, in regard to their visit to New South Wales. He also read a letter from the agent of the Maori team of footballers, in regard to a visit to the Northern districts. It was decided to leave’ the arrangements in connection with these teams in the hands of the delegates of the Association. Thee SECRETARY announced that Mr. Keightley had promised five guineas towards purchasing a cup for junior matches. Mr. BERKELEY, on behalf of the proprietors of the Newcastle Morning Herald, said he would make up another five guineas, so as to make the cup a 10-guinea one. (Cheers.) It was decided that the title in regard to the cup, should be “The Junior ‘Challenge Cup.” A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Keightleoy and Mr. Berkeley, for their hand some donations, which both gentlemen suitably acknowledged.
A long discussion ensued as to which clubs are to be styled “Juniors,” and it was eventually decided to leave the matter in the hands of the delegates. A vote of thanks was unanimously passed -to the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Victorian Football Association, for placing their ground at the free disposal of the Northern Football Association for their matches which take place in July.
Mr. WILLIAMS, the secretary, moved a vote of thanks to the press (specially coupled with the name of “Glenco”‘, the sporting representative of the .Newcastle Morning Herald), for the assistance he had rendered the Association, which was carried unanimously. The proceedings then terminated.